Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Competency-Based Management-An Integrated Approach to Human Resource Management in the Canadian Public Sector

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Competency-Based Management-An Integrated Approach to Human Resource Management in the Canadian Public Sector

Article excerpt


Increasing productivity and efficiency in managing people has become a focal point, not only in private sector companies, but also in public organizations. (1) Although they are facing different challenges, public entities are required to quickly adapt to on-going economic, political, technological and environmental changes. Furthermore, in the context of globalization, traditional human resources practices are being challenged just as new approaches to human resources management are being implemented.

One of these approaches, Competency-Based Management (CBM), the management of key human resource processes around a competency profile for the work to be performed, has been underway in many organizations for the past 15 to 20 years. By using a common language, by reflecting the values and mission of the organization and by establishing clear expectations, CBM helps integrate human resource activities into the business strategies of the organization. This paper explores how Competency-Based Management was applied in the Canadian federal government, within Service Canada, a new service delivery agency.

Competency-Based Management: Focus on People

As part of their new focus on people, today's organizations have begun to place an increased emphasis on human resource planning and what is now often referred to as "talent management." These activities focus not only on examining the demographics of the employee population, but also on an analysis of the competencies (the knowledge, skills and personal attributes) required of employees in order for organizations to successfully achieve their mandates.

The identification and assessment of competencies, as well as the development of competency-based management frameworks to support activities such as "gap analysis," recruitment, learning and other key human resource processes, all reflect an acknowledgement by organizations that their workforce is key to their success in the modern workplace. As Lawler has pointed out, competencies refer to the "skill sets that are appropriate and unique to the organization and that will provide core competencies and competitive advantage." (2) Using competencies, organizations can not only highlight the knowledge, abilities and personal qualities needed for success in key jobs but can also identify the qualities needed for success across all jobs in the organization.

Improving Service Delivery to Canadians Coast to Coast

Service Canada is a new federal government organization, launched in September 2005, aimed at providing a one-stop service to Canadians seeking access to a wide variety of government programs. Spread out across the country, with a staff of over 22,000 employees, Service Canada is one of the largest federal government organizations. Canadians can call a single telephone information line which is staffed by fully-trained agents who ensure people are connected to the services they need. A Service Canada Web site connects them to online services around the clock and in 320 Service Canada offices and 120 Outreach sites across Canada, frontline staff meet personally with Canadians to provide service.

As the "social face" of government, Service Canada delivers programs ranging from employment insurance assistance to old-age pension payments to programmes aimed at youth, students and people with disabilities. Each year Service Canada processes more than five million applications for benefits and pays out over 65 billion dollars to Canadians.

Implementing Competency-Based Management Within Service Canada: Origins of the Journey

Service Canada's competency work began in 1995 in its predecessor department, Human Resource Development Canada. It was initiated by a small group of HR Advisors as an attempt to help integrate existing competency efforts that had sprung up across the department at the time. The aim was to develop a corporate CBM framework for the organization. …

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